I believe the hills are alive with far more than just the sound of music, unless, of course, we include the music the angels sing.
In the book Cold Mountain, Ada Monroe is destitute after her father dies in the early days of the civil war. Ada had been raised in the city, without a concern for cooking or mending, much less farming. When she’s left alone in the harsh environment of 19th-century North Carolina mountains, the farm falls apart, and Ada is ill-equipped to slow the descent.
Eventually, Ruby Thewes, a hardened, and nearly-orphaned, mountain girl who has been forced from a young age to learn the ways of the mountains for her own survival, shows up to bring the farm, Black Cove, and Ada back to life.
Before the war is through, after a few years of callouses and lessons on the ways of the natural world from Ruby, Ada has been converted from city-girl to mountain-girl. Finally, she confesses a realization that the world around her, which had been considered merely a backdrop and setting for her cultured life, is actually alive with activity.
She describes how what had once only been background noise had been brought to the foreground – the way the birds fly, the types of trees on the property, the various insects and vermin, the smells of soil and smoke, and plants of ten thousand varieties. Every square inch of Black Cove is teeming with life she had never noticed because she had never been close enough to it.
Ada had been locked in a world unaware of her surroundings until her desperation for life forced her to find it, with Ruby as her guide.
As Renee and I hiked along Fall Creek in the woods of Middle Tennessee today, and waded in the pool formed by the 90-foot drop the creek takes at Carmac Falls, I felt like my surroundings were alive. Every square inch of earth became a world of its own. Tennessee bugs come in strange shapes and sizes.
A rotting log beside the trail is home to millions of creatures including the tiniest plants and moss, ants and strange spiders, and funky little colorful beetles. The trees were filled with creatures, as well, mostly invisible to my old eyes, but noisily making themselves known.
Renee and I chatted about my recently developed theory that birds are actually the embodiment of angels. Birds are everywhere and constantly singing, just like the worship that constantly surrounds the throne of God. I think birds would be the perfect way to hide angels among us.
Of course, it’s entirely likely that birds aren’t angels and that they’re just a bonus of earthly blessing to make the perceptive a little lighter on their feet. I’d like to pretend they are, though, if you don’t mind. I’d like to pretend they’re singing over me and singing to my king.
I’d like to go through my days believing the heavenly is as present as the birds and teeming life that surrounds me.
When’s the last time you sat in silence near an open window or in your back yard and just listened for the sounds around you? When’s the last time you got close enough to a rotting log to see the variety of creatures it hosts? It’s like natural condos for critters. You should try it.
Next time you get, or make, a chance, take a gander and a listen. Find the abundance of life, the abundance of heaven, the abundance of power and beauty, constantly surrounding us, of which the overwhelming activity of nature may be the best representative.
I’m just saying, I’d recommend we do all we can, as frequently as we can, to open our eyes, ears and hearts to the music the angels sing.